Biography of Antoine Masson


Antoine Masson was a French physicist known for development of early electrical instruments and the first study of electrical discharges through rarefied gases. Antoine Masson made his career as professor of physics in the Louis-the-Large College in Paris, as well as in the central School. Performing his scientific work, he actively collaborated with Louis Breguet (1804-1883), manufacturer of many scientific instruments. Together they produced an electric telegraph in 1838 and studied electric photometry in 1845-1855.

Masson’s induction coil

One more example of Masson’s induction coil

The apparatus presented here (left, top) is not signed, but one can think that it was built by Breguet since he participated in its development. For his conception, Antoine Masson took advantage of continuous effects of the induction current in a coil in two concentric circuits by producing very frequent interruptions of the current inductor. A cylindrical package of iron stalks, vertical axis, serves as core all around of which are made two superimposed rolling-ups.

The most internal are made by some hundreds of turns of thread of isolated copper of rather big diameter: it’s the inductive coil. The most external are made by some thousands or dozens thousand turns of thread of isolated copper of small diameter. The current in the inductive coil is established, then interrupted, periodically by means of a special interrupter. It’s about a glass insulating wheel, which concerns its suburb a toothed conductive circle.

On this circle rub a blade-spring which communicates with the thread of the inductive circuit connected with the pole of a pile. Another stands out (goes out again, re-releases), situated in a diametric plan with regard to the precedent, allows to obtain a constant contact, and is connected with the other pole of the pile. By the manual rotation of the wheel, locks and interruptions of the current succeed one another in very moved closer intervals. The obtained induction currents have a considerable tension, capable of producing physiological effects.

In 1841 they designed the first induction coil that was used by Masson before Geissler to produce discharges through rarefied gases. The first electrical discharge through low-pressure gases seems to have been created by A. Masson in 1853, when he discharged a Ruhmkorff (induction) coil through a Torricellian vacuum (the space above the mercury in a barometer).


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